Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs could have won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 after a stellar first season in which he quickly became the engine of Jon Gruden’s offense.
Instead of worrying about the award he didn’t get, or resting on his laurels, Jacobs is focusing on improving even more in 2020.
“I would grade it a ‘B,'” Jacobs said of his first season, via the Associated Press. “There’s a lot of yards that I felt like I left on the table. It’s a lot of plays, and I feel like I could’ve contributed more. … So that’s probably the biggest thing.”
Jacobs came second in OROY voting to Kyler Murray, ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards per game (88.5), eighth in total yards (1,150), and tied for fourth in the NFL with 4.8 yards per carry (among players with at least 200 carries).
After breaking tackles like a menace in the run game as a rookie, Jacobs wants to become an even more well-rounded back in Year 2, particularly adding a pass-catching element.
“I kind of established the run aspect of my game,” he said. “I feel like I want to improve that even more. Also, blocking, I want to put some of that on film. Obviously, catching too. My goal is to catch at least 60 balls this year.”
During his rookie season, Jacobs often came out of the game on third down. In his sophomore season, the plan is for the dynamic playmaker to be on the field all three downs.
“We went into it in the offseason and that was how we approached him as well. We want you to become a complete running back, we need you to get better at route-running out of the backfield, as well as route-running from an extended formation,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said.
“So, that was the homework assignment in the offseason. … That was probably the biggest area we were looking for improvement, and he can always get better in protection. That’s a big part as well. I think it’s difficult for a rookie to come in and master protection in one season, so we expected an improvement in that area as well.”
While the Raiders added pizzazz in the passing game with first-round receiver Henry Ruggs, it’s still Jacobs that should be the focal point of the offense. If the 22-year-old stays healthy and becomes a bigger threat in the passing game, he would vault into elite status among running backs.
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